A short subway ride from Manhattan by the L line, we enter Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Why do people travel over the bridges from Manhattan and even from more distant places to get to the unidirectional, globalized, derided and very influential capital of the hipster culture?
It might be the fine dining restaurant Aska. It is located in an 1860’s restored warehouse building at the edge of Williamsburg Bridge. It is run by Michelin-starred Swedish chef and former snowboarder Fredrik Berselius.
There you will find Danish furniture classics and can enjoy ingenuous variations on rutabaga, sour milk, oysters and lobster; balanced masterpieces of “New Nordic”.
“We wanted people to take an excursion to get here, forcing them to go from Manhattan, a small project,” says Fredrik Berselius, who also became a part of the city’s master chefs by coincidence.
“I found this place online, actually, just by randomly Googling rentals. That was in November of 2014. We signed the lease January or February of 2015,” adds Berselius.
New Nordic was seriously put on the menu in 2004 by restaurant Noma in Copenhagen. The food is clean, moderate heat treated and flavored, highly seasonal and with an emphasis on sustainability, with extensive use of crops and vegetables. In Scandinavia, the New Nordic is represented by restaurants like Danish Geranium, Swedish Faviken and Norwegian Maaemo.
“In the US we are still just at the beginning of the Nordic wave,” says Berselius.
However, on the New York’s visionary restaurant scene, Scandinavian restaurants were few and long between. It was limited to a few remains from the nineties, some traditional smorgasbord, the most conventional luxury restaurant Aquavit, and the Swedish-Somali chef Marcus Samuelsson who crossed meatballs with soul food at the Red Rooster in Harlem and became Obama’s preferred chef.
Mads Refslund helped kick off the Nordic food craze in NYC when he ran the kitchen at the glossy revamp of Acme back in 2012. Last year he left that NoHo hot spot, and moved, like Berselius, to Williamsburg.
His restaurant Fire and Ice will bring us back to nature, preparing food the way the caveman was cooking. However, the restaurant has not opened yet. Even the exact address remains a mystery sinceit is still under construction. In the meantime, check out this video of Mads and James on a foraging adventure:
Scandinavian Master Chefs in New York, written by Tor Kjolberg